The children's bedtime routine was a nightmare and it was our own fault. The two youngest would go up to bed around 7-7.30pm but would take the iPad/iPod with them and lay in bed playing games or watching something.
I knew it was wrong but I didn't care at the time, I was outnumbered 5 to 1 and if it kept them in bed and quiet they could keep them. For a while it did, they stayed in bed and then when it got late I would go in and take them away and they were asleep within a few minutes.
However, they did strop when I took them away and by the time I did remove all devices from them it was nearly 10pm, no wonder they were tired and cranky. In more recent weeks they didn't stay in bed anyway. They would be up and down asking for a drink, going to the toilet or just coming downstairs and then staying down and they would start to mess around.
Evenings aren't easy anyway as the OH is out on a Monday evening, I'm out on a Tuesday and Wednesday evening plus I have work every evening for a couple of hours. This week I have made sure that bedtime has been my priority and I haven't let it slip and become too late or rely on the devices to keep them quiet, everything else has had to wait whilst I do bedtime first.
Last Monday I sat them down and prepared them for their new bedtime routine. I had had enough and wanted to regain some 'quiet' time without running up and down the stairs all evening to see to them whilst still having to listen to the older ones too.
I explained that they could still use the iPad/iPod after school but after dinner they weren't to have them and they wouldn't be taking them to bed. The reaction I got shows how dependant they had become on them! I said we would have story time, they had to make sure they go to the toilet once before bed and they could take a drink up with them if they really needed one.
So Monday night was the first night. I took Thing 5 up at 7pm and had everything ready. I started reading the book as he sat on his bed crying out for the iPad. I ignored him and persevered and once he realised I wasn't listening his cries died down and he listened to the story. By 7.30pm he was asleep. Yay!
Thing 3 was an 8pm bedtime but could read until 8.30pm. I haven't had any protests from her at all, a slightly moan at me when I tell her to go up but nothing major, although it still hasn't stopped her from being a nightmare to wake up in the mornings!
Thing 2, don't get me started! However, I am celebrating the fact that I've regained control of bedtime with the 3 younger ones so we will gloss over that part for now!!!
It's been five nights and each night has got a bit easier. They don't even ask for the iPad/iPod at bedtime now and Thing 5 hasn't really been fussed with using it after school either so he hasn't really used it all week. Story time seems to be creeping up to four books a night but that is fine with me, I love reading to him and he is learning lots of new stories and tries to read the books to me too.
A small victory in what is a very tough time at home at the moment. Evenings are slightly calmer now the younger 3 are back into a normal bedtime routine, now to sort out the older 2!!
I'm off to crack open the champagne!